Virtual model for museology and education means: the swing bridge of Recouvrance in Brest (1861-1944). Virtual National Bridge

, by Stéphane Sire, Sylvain Laubé

This project deals with the 3D animated modelling of technical objects and their integration within computer-based environments for museology and education purposes.

It consists of three main objectives:

► to reproduce historical technical objects which are not or not anymore accessible (fragility, materials or disappeared technical objects) and thus to constitute a technical database related to national heritage. The technical object involved in this particular project is the National Bridge in Brest (the swing bridge between Brest and Recouvrance) build in 1861 (by Cadiat and Oudry) and destroyed during the 1944’s bombings.

 to represent scientific or industrial technical objects with virtual images and consequently to develop computer-based environments for human learning in order to realize learning activities within the frame of:

i). museology

ii). engineering teachers training (schools, colleges)

 to describe the use and the new competencies at stake for the targeted users of the computer-based environment (students, visitors) as well as the professional skills for the actors (teachers, museum...)

Historical, scientific and technical significance of the swing bridge of Recouvrance (1861-1944)

This bridge was the centre of numerous political debates between Brest City Council, the Ministry of Navy and the Ministry of Public Works from the beginning of the 19th century.

There were successive construction projects until the 1850’s, at first on a regional scale (in particular the project of an architect from Brest, Mr Tritschler) then on a national scale. The project selected by Paris was the one of two Parisian engineers, Mr Cadiat and Oudry. The construction phase began in 1856 in the workshops of the Schneider Company in Le Creusot. Inaugurated in June 1861, this bridge was the first building ever enabling the link between Brest and Recouvrance. The National Bridge had been built at a turning point in metallic structure construction techniques. Thus, it was only from around 1850 that the modern steel industry actually began to develop thanks to the advent of new materials (steels). Therefore, the National Bridge is at the heart of the engineering history because it was made of metal sheets and girders. The manufacturing processes used for the bridge parts were particularly elaborate and innovative. Furthermore, this bridge was singular for its two flights which could pivot to let boats through; the very particular mechanism, which could be activated by only four men, enabled to make rotate the two parts of the bridge in 20 minutes.

Expected results

The expected impacts of the project are:

 for museology / engineering history: a computer-based environment (based on knowledge capitalization) in order to reproduce, operate and make the scientific technical object reborn towards a dedicated public (museum or engineering history teaching).

 for the teaching of science and technology: a learning environment that enables to implement virtual activities close to the real ones (and available online at any time).

This project involves a pluridisciplinary alliance of competencies and research in Brittany in the following fields:

 Mechanics: Laboratoire d’Ingénierie Mécanique et Electrique (LIME), Electrical Engineering Department, University of Western Brittany, directed by B. NSom. Mechanical Engineering Department (contact: S. Sire) and Physics Department (contact: S. Laube), IUFM of Brittany (Teacher Education Institute), Brest.

 ICT uses for Education/Didactics and History of Science and Technology: Centre de Recherche sur l’Education, les Apprentissages et la Didactique (CREAD, Research Centre for Education, Learning and Didactics), University of Rennes2 / IUFM of Brittany, director: G. Sensevy.

In association with, from the region “Pays de la Loire”:

 Machines replicas and Engineering History: Institut de l’Homme et des Technologies (Human Sciences and Technology Research Institute), Nantes ; director : M. Cotte ; in association with the Centre F. Viète from the University of Nantes.

This project is part of the group Marsouin (for Mole Armoricain de Recherche sur la SOciété de l’information et des Usages d’INternet, ie Armorican Mole for Research on the Information Society and Uses of the Internet) in Brittany: indeed, the CREAD is part of this research network specialised in studies on the uses of ICT and innovations.